When most homeowners renovate, they focus on ways to make their home more beautiful, functional, and valuable. Rarely do homeowners cite better health as a reason for remodeling, but maybe they should: From polluted indoor air to a lack of safe outdoor access, homes can be full of problems that hold your health back. Instead of living with it, tackle these three jobs as part of your next home renovation.
Test for Toxins
Did you know that one in 15 homes has elevated radon levels? You won’t see or smell elevated radon in your home, but this radioactive gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Luckily, it’s also easy to find out if your home has elevated radon using do-it-yourself radon test kits available at home improvement stores (Lowe’s has kits for $13.98), through the Kansas State University National Radon Program, or through your state radon program. If your home tests with a radon level of 4 pCi/L, you’ll want to hire a credentialed radon professional to mitigate radon in your home.
Radon isn’t the only toxic substance that could be lurking in your home. Lead-based paint is common in homes built before 1978 and has been linked to seizures, brain damage, and behavioral problems, especially in children. While lead-based paint usually isn’t an issue if it’s in good condition, it can be a serious concern if lead dust goes airborne during painting and renovations. Since a simple lead test can’t detect lead that’s been painted over, owners of older homes should hire EPA-certified contractors as a precaution when remodeling.
Improve Indoor Air Quality
Even with lead and radon out of the picture, the air inside your home is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. A lot of things contribute to indoor air pollution, including paint, furniture, and cleaning chemicals, but carpeting is among the worst offenders. Not only does the carpet manufacturing and installation process produce dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs), but carpets also trap other pollutants like dust mites, pet dander, mold, and pesticide residue.
Replacing carpet with hard flooring is a great way to improve indoor air quality, especially for people with allergies. If you can’t give up the feel of carpet underfoot, use area rugs and clean them outdoors. Homeowners should also opt for healthier building materials like low-VOC paints and finishes, wood products made without formaldehyde, and natural materials like wood, linoleum, and stone.
Create a Safer Backyard
One of the best ways to limit your exposure to indoor air pollution is to spend more time outside — and that’s hardly the only benefit of getting more green time. However, it can be hard to feel comfortable sending the kids outside to play if your yard is unfenced. While fences aren’t cheap, installing one is a good call for parents of active kids. Homeowners can expect to pay $2,753 on average to have a fence built, but a lot will depend on the size of the fence and which type of wood you use. For example, pine will run you $2 – $3 per six feet, while a tropical hardwood could cost up to $15 per six feet.
As you take on these healthy home remodeling projects, there’s one more health tip to keep in mind. Since construction dust can circulate toxic chemicals through your home, make sure you wear personal protective equipment and clean up thoroughly after any home renovation. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to vacuum and dust your house from top to bottom before wiping surfaces down with a damp mop or towel. Even healthier materials can cause problems when they go airborne, and when it comes to your home, it’s better to play it safe. Image via Unsplash